Naadam festival

The biggest festival (National Naadam) is held in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar during the National Holiday from July 11 – 13, in the National Sports Stadium. Naadam begins with an elaborate introduction ceremony, featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competitions begin. The competitions are mainly horseback riding. Naadam is the most widely watched festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries in one fashion or another. Naadam has its origin in the activities, such as military parades and sporting competitions such as archery, horse riding and wrestling, that followed the celebration of various occasions, including weddings or spiritual gatherings. It later served as a way to train soldiers for battle. Now it formally commemorates the 1921 Revolution when Mongolia declared itself a free country. Naadam also celebrates the achievement of the new state. Naadam was celebrated as a Buddhist/shaman holiday until secularization in the 1930s. The three sports are called "Eriin 3 naadam" which is called three games of man in English. Genghis Khan's nine horse tails, representing the nine tribes of the Mongols, are still ceremonially transported from Sukhbaatar Square to the Stadium to open the Naadam festival

Join Naadam festival tour
Naadam festival
Golden eagle festival

Golden eagle festival

The Golden Eagle Festival or Eagle Festival is an annual traditional festival held in Bayan-Ulgii aimag, Mongolia. In the eagle festival, Kazakh eagle hunters  celebrate their heritage and compete to catch small animals such as foxes and hares with specially trained golden eagles, showing off the skills both of the birds and their trainers. Prizes are awarded for speed, agility and accuracy, as well as for the best traditional Kazakh dress, and more.

The Eagle Festival is held during the first weekend in October, run by the Mongolian Eagle Hunter's Association. Dark, rocky mountainous terrain forms the backdrop to the festivities, which incorporate an opening ceremony, parade, cultural exhibitions, demonstrations and handcrafts in the center of the town of Ulgii, followed by sporting activities and competitions 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) outside of town towards the mountains. Dressed in full eagle hunting regalia and mounted on groomed decorated horses, the entrants compete for the awards of Best Turned Out Eagle and Owner; Best Eagle at Hunting Prey and Best Eagle at Locating Its Owner from a Distance. Other sporting activities include horse racing, archery and the highly entertaining Bushkashi - goatskin tug of war on horseback.

The Eagle Festival is featured in the 2016 documentary The Eagle Huntress, in which the 13-year-old Kazakh girl Aisholpan becomes the first female to enter and win the competition.

A smaller festival, the Altai Kazakh Eagle Festival, is also held each year in the nearby village of Sagsai in the last week of September. It follows much the same pattern as the larger Golden Eagle Festival, with about 40 eagle hunters participating.

Join Golden eagle festival tour

Tsagaan sar /White moon/

The customs of Tsagaan Sar is much different depending on the region. In Mongolia around the New Year for example, families burn candles at the altar symbolizing Buddhist enlightenment. Also people greet each other with holiday-specific greetings such as Amar baina uu?, meaning "Are you living peacefully? Mongols also visit friends and family on this day and exchange gifts. A typical Mongol family will meet in the home dwelling of the eldest in the family. Many people will be dressed in full garment of national Mongol costumes. When greeting their elders during the White Moon festival, Mongols perform the zolgokh greeting, grasping them by their elbows to show support for them. The eldest receives greetings from each member of the family except for his/her spouse. During the greeting ceremony, family members hold long, typically blue, silk cloths called a khadag. After the ceremony, the extended family eats sheep's tail, mutton, rice with curds, dairy products, and buuz. It is also typical to drink airag and exchange gifts.

The day before Tsagaan Sar is called Bituun, the name of the lunar phase of a new or dark moon. The lunar phases are Bituun (dark moon), Shined (new crescent moon), Tergel (full moon), and Huuchid (waxing moon). On the Bituun day, people thoroughly clean around home, herders also clean the livestock barns and shades, to meet the New Year fresh. The Bituun ceremony also includes burning candles to symbolize enlightenment of the samsara and all sentient beings and putting three pieces of ice at the doorway so that the horse of the deity Palden Lhamo could drink as the deity is believed to visit every household on this day. In the evening, families gather together—usually immediate family, in contrast to the large feast gatherings of White Moon day — and see out the old year eating dairy products and buuz. Traditionally, Mongolians settle all issues and repay all debts from the old year by this day.

Food

Depending on the region, the food is much different. For example, the traditional food in Mongolia for the festival includes dairy products, rice with curds or rice with raisins a pyramid of traditional cookies erected on a large dish in a special fashion symbolising Mount Sumeru or Shambhala realm, a grilled side of sheep and minced beef or minced mutton steamed inside pastry, steamed dumplings known as buuz, horse meat and traditional cookies. Tsagaan Sar is a lavish feast, requiring preparation days in advance, as the men and women make large quantities of buuz as a whole family, along with ul boov, a pastry reserved for both dessert and presentation.